Oakland Athletics – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-23T17:23:37Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 1/15/21]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=337191 2021-01-16T03:42:52Z 2021-01-15T16:51:22Z The deadline to exchange arbitration figures is today at 1pm ET. As of this morning, there were 125 arbitration-eligible players who’d yet to agree to terms on their contract for the upcoming 2021 season. Arbitration is muddier than ever before thanks to the shortened 2020 schedule, which most believe will lead to record number of arb hearings this winter. Be that as it may, it’s still reasonable to expect dozens of contractual agreements to filter in over the next couple of hours.

We’ll highlight some of the more high-profile cases in separate posts with more in-depth breakdowns, but the majority of today’s dealings will be smaller-scale increases that don’t radically alter a team’s payroll or a player’s trade candidacy. As such, we’ll just run through most of today’s agreements in this post.

I’ve embedded MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker in the post (those in the mobile app or viewing on mobile web will want to turn their phones sideways). Our tracker can be sorted by team, by service time and/or by Super Two status, allowing users to check the status on whichever groups of players they like. You can also check out Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salaries for this year’s class, and we’ll do a quick sentence on each player’s agreement at the bottom of this post as well, with the most recent agreements sitting atop the list.

Today’s Agreements (chronologically, newest to oldest)

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Trade Nik Turley To Athletics]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=336094 2021-01-14T19:18:58Z 2021-01-14T19:18:58Z The Pirates have traded left-hander Nik Turley to the Athletics in exchange for cash, per an announcement from the A’s. Pittsburgh designated Turley for assignment earlier this week upon claiming outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. from Detroit.

Turley, 31, tossed 21 2/3 innings with the Pirates this past season but struggled to keep runs off the board and to limit free passes. Between that Pirates stint and a similarly brief look with the Twins back in 2017, the southpaw carries a career 7.78 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 19 walks in 39 1/3 frames.

Unsightly as those numbers may be, Turley has elite spin rates on his curveball and particularly on his four-seam fastball, which checked in at an average of 94.5 mph in 2020. He’s also posted strong numbers in the upper minors. His 2017 minor league output with the Twins was particularly encouraging, as he worked to a 2.05 ERA with a superlative 124-to-29 K/BB ratio in 92 innings. Turley struck out a whopping 34.5 percent of hitters he faced between Double-A and Triple-A that season while walking just 8.1 percent of his opponents.

Turley hasn’t pitched in the minors since that 2017 showing, however. An 80-game PED suspension wiped out the first half his 2018 season after the Pirates claimed him from the Twins, and he was immediately placed on the 60-day injured list upon being activated thanks to an elbow strain he sustained while ramping up toward the end of his suspension window. He ultimately required Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2019 campaign as well.

Turley is out of minor league options, so if he survives the winter on Oakland’s 40-man roster, he’ll have to break camp with the club or else again be exposed to waivers. He’ll give the A’s another lefty to pair with Jake Diekman, who could be the favorite for ninth-inning work now that Liam Hendriks has departed for the White Sox in free agency.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Notes: Soria, Zimmermann, Sale, Price, LeBlanc]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=335797 2021-01-14T05:10:09Z 2021-01-14T05:10:09Z It seems veteran hurler Joakim Soria is drawing quite a lot of interest from the American League West. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that the AngelsAstrosAthletics, and Rangers are all pursuing Soria to some degree. Of course, most teams could stand to add an experienced late-inning reliever coming off of a quality season, so it stands to reason that just about every club in a competitive division would give a look. Soria, 36, registered a strong 2.82 ERA last year in Oakland, though that’s hardly a determinative measure on its own for a reliever in a shortened season. The well-traveled hurler managed only a 9.6% swinging-strike rate, his lowest in quite some time, and suddenly shifted to being a heavy flyball pitcher (though he wasn’t punished with many home runs in the short sample).

More from the pitching market:

  • After wrapping up a greatly disappointing tenure with the Tigers, Jordan Zimmermann is taking quite a different free agent journey than his first one. It’s fair to wonder whether he’d consider retiring, but the 34-year-old tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter link) that he’s instead preparing for another campaign. Zimmermann is sure to draw interest, but not on a guaranteed big-league pact. He has largely been ineffective since coming to Detroit five seasons back and is now also recovering from a forearm injury.
  • The Red Sox could soon get a good sense of the return timeline for star lefty Chris Sale. Per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter), Sale is expected to throw from a mound at some point in the next two weeks or so — if all goes as planned. It’s promising that he’s already nearing that milestone, having undergone his Tommy John procedure at the end of March of 2020. It is hard to imagine that Sale will be ready for the start of the season, but perhaps he could resume competitive pitching relatively early in the 2021 campaign.
  • Also on his way back is Sale’s former teammate David Price. He posted a video on Twitter showing that he’s hard at work preparing for the upcoming season. The Dodgers will surely be interested to see how the ball is coming out of the once-great lefty’s hand after a long respite. Price, who was acquired in a blockbuster nearly one year ago, has yet to take the ball with his new team. He opted out of the 2020 season.
  • Teams looking for a spot starter and long reliever will soon have another option to consider. Southpaw Wade LeBlanc is still plugging away despite suffering a tough elbow injury last year. Per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link), LeBlanc is in good enough form that he’s now preparing for a showcase. LeBlanc posted a resurgent 2018 season but has struggled more recently, so he’s sure to land a non-guaranteed deal when he does sign.
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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Marcus Semien]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=335629 2021-01-14T00:01:23Z 2021-01-14T00:01:23Z Over two months into free agency, shortstop Marcus Semien remains without a team. It’s not for lack of interest, however, as Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets that the Athletics, Phillies, Reds and Red Sox have all been part of negotiations with Semien “to some extent.” It’s isn’t known how serious any of those discussions have gotten, however.

Semien, 30, spent the previous six years in Oakland, where he was regularly an average or better starter. He reached a new level in 2019, an MVP-caliber season in which he didn’t miss a game and posted 7.6 fWAR with a .285/.369/.522 line and 33 home runs, but wasn’t able to replicate those otherworldly stats last year. Semien bounced back to a major degree as the year progressed, however, evidenced by a 64 wRC+ in the first half and a 126 mark in the second.

Even though the A’s made it known on multiple occasions during and after the season that they wanted Semien back, they did not give him an $18.9MM qualifying offer. Now, considering he could price himself out of the team’s range in free agency, it seems doubtful low-budget Oakland will win the bidding for Semien. Thanks in part to the pandemic, the A’s don’t seem as if they’ll spend much this winter.

Philadelphia and Cincinnati appear to be more realistic fits for Semien, who would certainly address their gaping holes at shortstop. The Phillies could plug him in to replace Didi Gregorius, another notable veteran shortstop who’s currently a free agent. Freddy Galvis is a free agent for the Reds, meanwhile, leaving Jose Garcia as at least the temporary front-runner to start for them next season. Garcia doesn’t appear ready for that role, though: He never played above High-A ball before last year, when he reached the majors and batted .194/.206/.194 with no home runs, 26 strikeouts and one walk in 68 plate appearances.

Unlike Oakland, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Boston is targeting Semien as a second baseman, per Bowden. That isn’t surprising, as it was reported last month that teams have shown interest in Semien as an option at the keystone this offseason. Boston already has a set left side of the infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, but it still has to sort out second – a position that isn’t foreign to Semien. He played 77 games there as a minor leaguer and another 29 in the bigs with the White Sox from 2013-14.

Along with where he’ll go, an obvious question centering on Semien is how much it will take to sign him. When the offseason began, MLBTR predicted Semien would reel in a one-year, $14MM contract, but as Steve Adams wrote in November, others have been far more bullish in regards to his forthcoming deal. If teams are confident Semien is more the player he was in 2019 and in the second half of 2020, he could indeed collect a substantial payday over multiple years.

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Red Sox Discussing Andrew Benintendi In Trade Talks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=330001 2021-01-13T01:25:00Z 2021-01-13T01:23:58Z JANUARY 12, 7:23pm: A rival executive told Mark Feinsand of MLB.com that he will be “shocked” if the Red Sox don’t trade Benintendi before the end of the weekend.

4:26pm: The Red Sox have discussed Benintendi with more teams than the ones mentioned below, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports. One of those clubs “has discussed trading big-league pitching depth for Benintendi,” Speier writes.

1:51PM: “Another American League team not mentioned has had deeper discussions” about Benintendi, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.  A source also tells Bradford that the Rangers aren’t in on Benintendi.

12:35PM: The Astros, Athletics, and Rangers have all been in touch with the Red Sox about Benintendi, Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reports (Twitter link).  A source tells McAdam that Benintendi could be on the move soon, though it won’t be to the Marlins, another club previously linked to the outfielder in reports.

JANUARY 9: The Red Sox have been in “serious trade talks” about the possibility of moving left fielder Andrew Benintendi, writes The Athletic’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter). The Red Sox have a particular interest in pitcher and outfielder prospects, notes Bowden, but that’s likely a starting point more than a mandate. However serious discussions have been thus far, there is no deal pending.

There may be some bombast to Bowden’s report, which is only to say that there is a wide range of interpretations for “serious trade talks.” That could speak to an earnestness on Boston’s part in terms of their willingness to deal Benintendi, or it could reference a specific exchange of names, or something else entirely. Regardless, it’s not a shocking development for Benintendi’s name to emerge on the hot stove. Boston would be selling low on their 26-year-old outfielder, however, who is coming off a 43 wRC+ showing in 14 games in an injury-shortened 2020. Interested teams, however, are paying more attention to his 2019 production (100 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR) than 2020, adds Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (via Twitter).

His 2020 performance aside, there is some concern that Benintendi has declined in foot speed, which could have major repercussions on his game. He has not yet boasted the explosive power traditionally associated with a corner outfielder (.162 career ISO). Per Statcast, Benintendi’s sprint speed has slowed from 28.6 feet per second as a 22-year-old in 2016 to 27.7 ft/s as a 24-year-old in 2018 to 26.6 ft/s as a 26-year-old in the short sample of 2020. That’s a rather stunning fall from the 89th percentile to the 43rd percentile.

If anything, the decline in speed could threaten his viability as a centerfielder. Benintendi hasn’t played much center in his career, but he hasn’t needed to with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning the middle in Boston. With Bradley a free agent, the Red Sox are looking at a starting outfield of Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe. All three have traditionally fit better in the corner. Hypothetically, if Boston didn’t think Benintendi was a good fit in center, they could look to move him to give more playing time to Verdugo and Renfroe. At the same time, Renfroe was a part-time player with the Rays last season, and he could continue in that capacity this season. Jarren Duran could make the Major League team at some point, and he might fit better in center than anyone else currently on the Boston roster. All of which merely speaks to why Boston might view Benintendi as an expendable asset, not necessarily why they would or should desire to move him.

As a prospect, Benintendi possessed a monster hit tool with the possibility for big power, and his game hardly predicated solely on his foot speed (though he was viewed more as a gap-to-gap hitter than a home run leader). Remember, he was the No. 1 ranked prospect in the game as recently as 2017 per Baseball America, who wrote in their prospect report after he made his debut in 2016: “Multiple evaluators believe that Benintendi has a chance to be a perennial all-star who competes for batting titles. ’He’s a once-in-a-decade hitter,’ one said. Benintendi combines excellent hand-eye coordination with the pitch recognition to avoid strike zone expansion. His precisely-tuned swing, with his strong forearms and core along with a rare knack for putting the bat on the ball, allow him to drive the ball with surprising authority given his diminutive stature.” Those skills at peak development still play even if he doesn’t run as well as before. Certainly, a team that sees even a portion of that upside would have more than enough cause to make a run at Benintendi, depending on Boston’s asking price.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Managers & Top Front Office Executives On Expiring Contracts]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=313461 2020-12-27T14:11:27Z 2020-12-27T02:28:41Z A unique set of challenges faced anyone running a Major League franchise in 2020, between dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and then the difficulties involved in playing games during the delayed-then-shortened season.  Nevertheless, it seemed like only a certain amount of slack was granted the sport’s managers and front office leaders (whether that top title was president of baseball operations, general manager, chief baseball officer, etc.) through the turbulent year, as we still saw a number of teams make changes either in the dugout or at the top of the baseball ops department.

As such, it’s fair to assume that a “normal” amount of pressure to put a winning — or championship-winning — team on the field will be the same in 2021 as in any usual season, even if 2021 is already looking it may have its own share of abnormality.  That means that for managers and executives heading into the last guaranteed year of their contracts, job security will likely be on the line in the coming months.

Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for information on the various contractual details of team personnel, though this list may not be complete.  Some teams don’t publicly reveal contract lengths of managers or front office execs, so it’s possible some of these names might be locked up beyond 2021 whether due to the original terms of their current deals or due to extensions that haven’t been announced.

Astros: Originally signed to a one-year deal with a club option for 2021, Dusty Baker saw Houston exercise that option last summer, lining Baker up for his 24th season running a Major League dugout.  Recent comments from Baker indicate that the 71-year-old is taking something of a year-by-year approach to his future, though if the Astros again reach the postseason, one would imagine the team would certainly have interest in retaining Baker for 2022.  A longer-term extension seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if at least another club option (or even a mutual option) was tacked onto Baker’s deal to give both sides some flexibility going forward.

Athletics: While major postseason success continues to elude the team, Oakland has reached the playoffs in each of the last three years.  This makes six postseason appearances for Melvin in 10 years managing the A’s, and it seems likely the team will discuss another extension for Melvin as he enters the final year of his current contract.  While Billy Beane’s possible departure would naturally have a major impact on the Athletics, the likelihood of longtime executive and current GM David Forst taking over the baseball operations department would probably mean that Melvin would be welcomed back.

Blue Jays: Charlie Montoyo is entering the last guaranteed year of his original three-year contract, and the Jays hold a club option on Montoyo’s services for 2022.  That option could be exercised to give Montoyo a bit more security as a reward for leading Toronto to the playoffs last year, though expectations are certainly higher for the 2021 team.  It should also be noted that there hasn’t yet been any official confirmation that president/CEO Mark Shapiro has signed a new contract with the team after his five-year deal ran out after last season, but last October, Shapiro seemed to imply that a new deal was all but complete.

Braves: After going from interim manager to full-time manager following the 2016 season, Brian Snitker has twice been signed to extensions — most recently last February, when Atlanta turned its 2021 club option on Snitker into a guaranteed year.  Snitker has led the Braves to three straight NL East titles and the team fell one game shy of the NL pennant last October, so Snitker seems like a prime candidate for another extension prior to Opening Day.

Diamondbacks: 2020 was an overall disappointing year for a D’Backs team that was aiming for the postseason, but team president/CEO Derrick Hall indicated that the organization wasn’t planning to make any wholesale changes due to the season’s unusual nature.  This bodes well for manager Torey Lovullo as he enters the last year of his contract, and it seems possible Arizona could add another year to Lovullo’s deal just so he can avoid lame-duck status.

Mariners: Both GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais were in the final year of their contracts when both inked extensions with Seattle in July 2018.  The terms of those extensions weren’t known, but 2021 would be the final guaranteed year for both if the extensions were three-year deals like their original contracts, though it’s possible Dipoto and Servais each got more security than just a three-year pact.  The Mariners have mostly been in rebuild mode since those extensions were signed, and with the team only starting to deliver on some of the young talent amassed in the farm system, ownership could give Dipoto (and quite possibly Servais) more time to see if they can finally get the M’s back to the playoffs.  Considering the previous extensions weren’t announced until midseason, we might not know Dipoto/Servais’ fate for some time — and if the Mariners get off to a particularly disappointing start, changes might be in the offing.

Marlins: One of few holdovers from Jeffrey Loria’s ownership, Don Mattingly was signed to a two-year extension following the 2019 season that contained a club option for 2022.  The young Marlins reached the postseason last season, so Mattingly has a good case to at least get his option exercised at some point this year, and another extension could well be discussed if CEO Derek Jeter and GM Kim Ng are satisfied with the team’s progress.  It can’t hurt that Ng knows Mattingly well from her past days an assistant general manager with the Yankees and Dodgers.

Mets: The winds of change have swept through the Mets organization this winter, yet Luis Rojas wasn’t affected, as team president Sandy Alderson announced that Rojas will remain in the dugout for 2021.  Making the move from quality control coach to manager after Carlos Beltran’s quick resignation last winter, Rojas signed a two-year deal with club options for both 2022 and 2023.  Expectations are definitely higher for Rojas under the Steve Cohen regime, but given all of the tumult of the 2020 season, Cohen and Alderson (plus newly-hired GM Jared Porter) seem interested in seeing what they actually have in Rojas before deciding on whether a new manager is required.

Orioles: According to The Athletic’s Dan Connolly, “one industry source said it’s believed” that 2021 is the last guaranteed year of manager Brandon Hyde’s contract, with the club possibly holding a club option for 2022.  For that matter, executive VP/general manager Mike Elias didn’t have his contract terms revealed when he was hired in November 2018, so he could also be in his final guaranteed year if he hired Hyde on a similar timeline to his own deal.  It doesn’t seem like a change is coming in either the front office or the dugout, as the Orioles are still at least a couple of years away from coming out of a complete rebuild.  (Connolly makes the case that Hyde should be retained, as Hyde has had little to work with as manager and deserves a chance to steward an actual competitive roster.)

Rangers: Chris Woodward is entering the last guaranteed year of his deal, with the Rangers holding a club option for 2022.  Woodward has a 100-122 record over his first two years in the Texas dugout, and since the team is looking to get younger in 2021, it doesn’t seem like an immediate return to contention is in the cards.  If it’ll be a year or two until the Rangers are done with what seems like a mini-rebuild, it’s possible the team might decide to hire a new manager to herald them into something of a new era.  Woodward may have to prove himself anew by shepherding this younger talent and keeping the Rangers as competitive as possible while they shuffle the roster.

Rays: Erik Neander’s contract terms aren’t known, and it has been over four years since his promotion to the GM/senior VP of baseball operations position in November 2016.  So, if Neander’s new gig came with a five-year contract, it would be up at the end of 2021.  He makes the list due to uncertainty over his contractual situation, but it doesn’t seem like Neander and the Rays will be parting company any time soon, especially after the club reached the 2020 World Series.  Neander reportedly has no interest in leaving the organization and the Rays turned down the Angels’ request to speak with Neander about their GM opening earlier this offseason.

Reds: 2021 is the last guaranteed year for manager David Bell, with the Reds holding a team option for 2022.  On the plus side for Bell, he led the team to the playoffs in 2020, though Cincinnati was swept out of the two-game wild card series without scoring even a single run against Atlanta pitching.  The Reds spent a lot of money to build that winning team, yet now seem focused on moving salaries, with Raisel Iglesias dealt to the Angels and such names as Eugenio Suarez and Sonny Gray also coming up in trade talks.  It remains to be seen if the Reds are trying to just trim payroll or make more wholesale cuts, and this direction could certainly impact Bell’s future if the club is already thinking rebuild.

Rockies: Now through six full seasons as Colorado’s GM, Jeff Bridich’s contractual status is unknown.  Between the Rockies’ struggles over the last two years and the frosty relationship between Bridich and star third baseman Nolan Arenado, it would certainly seem like Bridich will need to get things turned around quickly.  However, payroll cuts appear to be on the horizon, and the front office is also dealing with the loss of two-thirds of the analytics department.  As has been noted many times in the past, Rockies owner Dick Monfort tends to give his employees lots of opportunities, but if Bridich’s contract is up any time soon, one wonders if Monfort might feel a change is necessary.

Yankees: While no official statement has been made, owner Hal Steinbrenner clearly stated after the season that manager Aaron Boone will be returning in 2021, so it’s safe to assume the Yankees have exercised their club option on Boone.  There hasn’t been any buzz about an extension, and until then, there will be plenty of media focus on Boone’s lame-duck status.  Boone has a 236-148 record and three postseason appearances in his three seasons as manager, but as always in the Bronx, the focus is on playoff success — the Yankees have only made it as far the ALCS once during Boone’s tenure.  Anything short of a World Series appearance could spell the end of Boone’s stint as manager.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Beane, Forst, Owens Expected To Return To A’s Front Office In 2021]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=307046 2020-12-19T21:44:00Z 2020-12-19T20:59:42Z Amidst much speculation about the future of the Athletics’ front office, the team’s chief baseball officials (executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane, GM David Forst, and assistant GM Billy Owens) are expected to continue working in Oakland for the 2021 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  In addition to Slusser’s sources, A’s manager Bob Melvin intimated during a recent discussion with Slusser and other reporters that the team’s front office trio would be returning: “It looked like at the beginning of the offseason that there might be several in that group not here.  At this point, it looks like everyone will be back.

The key factor seems to be that the proposed merger between RedBall Acquisition Corp (Beane is RedBall’s co-chair) and Fenway Sports Group LLC (the parent company of the Red Sox) doesn’t appear to be on track to get league approval before the end of the year.  Had a deal gone through, Beane would have left the A’s due to the obvious conflict of interest.  It isn’t clear when the commissioner’s office could weigh in on the merge, though as Slusser puts it, “Beane is likely to remain at the A’s helm through 2021.”

Had Beane left the team, Forst was seen as the logical candidate to take over the baseball operations department, with Owens the favorite to move up the ladder and become general manager.  That said, both Forst and Owens received interest from the Mets and Angels for their front office vacancies, with Owens interviewing for both general manager openings.  It doesn’t appear as if Forst even spoke with either team, as reports indicate he enjoys his job in Oakland.

Changes could still be coming to the A’s depending on Beane’s future business dealings, but for now, the Athletics will continue their rather remarkable front office stability.  Beane has been with the team for over 30 years and atop the front office pyramid since October 1997, Forst has been with the organization since 2000, and Owens spent five seasons as a minor league hitting coach before moving into front office work in 2003.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Melvin: Chapman Will Be Ready For Spring Training]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=306213 2020-12-18T02:23:28Z 2020-12-18T02:23:28Z
  • Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman is “full speed ahead” after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip ended his 2020 season prematurely, manager Bob Melvin told reporters Thursday (Twitter link via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). He’s expected to be a full participant in Spring Training. Chapman’s agent, Scott Boras, indicated this week that he’d likely be ready for Spring Training, but it’s all the more encouraging to hear prominent members of the A’s organization making similar declarations. Chapman belted 10 homers in 152 plate appearances this past season, but he was clearly dogged by the injury, as evidenced by a career-worst 35.5 percent strikeout rate (up from 21.9 percent in 2019).
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On A's Free Agents]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=304483 2020-12-16T20:32:16Z 2020-12-16T20:32:16Z
  • Since the Athletics reportedly don’t have much available to spend this offseason, their chances of making any notable free agent additions or even re-signing some of their own free agents don’t seem great, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser writes as part of a reader mailbag.  Signing a player like Ha-Seong Kim seems very unlikely given Kim’s expected price tag, and while the A’s have had some talks with Tommy La Stella’s camp, Slusser would “be surprised” if a reunion actually takes place since La Stella should have enough suitors to take him out of Oakland’s price range.  In terms of possible returns, Yusmeiro Petit or Joakim Soria might be the likeliest candidates among the Athletics’ free agents, and Mike Fiers could also be re-signed since the A’s might want some rotation depth or perhaps a swingman.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Boras On MLB Finances, Season Length, Bryant, A’s, Universal DH]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=304033 2020-12-16T02:17:10Z 2020-12-16T02:17:10Z Agent Scott Boras and MLB disagree over whether the league’s teams lost money during the pandemic-shortened, spectator-less 2020 season. Speaking with Jon Heyman of MLB Network and other reporters Tuesday, Boras declared that clubs “lost profits” last season, but they didn’t lose money. Per Heyman, a league spokesman responded that “clubs lost $3B — $100M per team.” It now appears the league and the players side are in for another few months of disagreement over whether to play a full schedule in 2021. MLB reportedly wants to push the season back, which would mean a second straight shortened season. That would cost the players money, though, so they’re currently not open to the idea of playing fewer than 162 games next year.

    Boras, for his part, remains upset that the league’s teams only played 60 games in 2020. “I was very disappointed we didn’t play 100 games at minimum, 120 games, in 2020,” he said (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). Boras is of the belief the league can return to its normal slate going forward, as he stated: “We now know we can play the game and we can do it safely. And with the vaccine coming, we can play it at an even higher level of safety. It’s not a question of whether we can do it. We’ve already done it. That unknown has been erased.”

    The ever-outspoken Boras had plenty more to say during his discussion with the media. Here are some other highlights…

    • Boras asserted that the low-budget Athletics will need “an insurgence of a small amount of money” in order to sustain success, and they can’t simply rely on a potential new stadium for that, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle relays. That “insurgence” doesn’t appear as if it’s coming this offseason. According to Slusser, the A’s have been telling agents that they don’t have much to spend, which is especially alarming for a team facing the losses of several key free agents (Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks and Tommy La Stella are among them). In better news for the club, Boras announced that third baseman Matt Chapman has been cleared for increased activity and should be ready for spring training. Chapman underwent hip surgery in September, at which point Boras said he’d need 12 to 16 weeks to recover.
    • Although Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, Boras seems to be under the impression he’ll remain with the team for another year, per Heyman. On Bryant’s future, Boras said (via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune): “That question probably will be very clearly addressed at the end of ‘21, because we’re going to know a lot more about what Jed (Hoyer) wants to do, and also about the continuance of Kris Bryant’s excellence in a baseball uniform.” The Cubs would be selling low on the former MVP, who’s due a projected $18.6MM salary in his final season of team control. Many clubs may deem that too rich after Bryant endured uncharacteristic struggles last season.
    • Likewise, Boras doesn’t expect the Rays to trade left-hander Blake Snell.
    • MLB introduced the universal designated hitter in 2020, but even with free agency underway, there has been no official word on whether it will return next year. Boras advocated for it to come back and took a shot at the lack of clarity from the commissioner’s office, saying, “Maybe in the commissioner’s office, the DH may stand for dragging their heels.” He also believes it’s “absolutely necessary” for the league to stick with expanded rosters (via Tyler Kepner of the New York Times and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register).
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics, Tommy La Stella Have Been In Touch ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=300974 2020-12-15T05:10:37Z 2020-12-15T05:10:02Z
  • The Athletics “have been in touch with Tommy La Stella’s representatives,” Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. A’s executive vice president Billy Beane and general manager David Forst have made it clear in the past they’d like La Stella back, but this is the first indication they’re making an effort to re-sign him. The 31-year-old infielder made a good impression on the A’s after they acquired him from the Angels over the summer, wrapping up a very productive two-season run between the teams. La Stella appeared in 55 of 60 regular-season games in 2020 and batted .281/.370/.449 (129 wRC+) with five home runs in 228 plate appearances. And with 27 walks against a mere 12 strikeouts, he ranked first in the majors in K rate and BB/K ratio.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Mets’ GM Search]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=297844 2020-12-12T16:40:26Z 2020-12-12T16:40:42Z TODAY: Porter and Scott seem to be the two favorites for the job, as per Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link).  Also from Puma, J.P. Ricciardi is the other unknown finalist for the GM job.

    DECEMBER 11, 8:13pm: The Mets are actually still considering other candidates in addition to Scott, Porter, Owens and Hill, Tim Healey of Newsday reports.

    7:52pm: Scott, Porter, Owens and Hill are indeed the Mets’ GM finalists, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. They have all interviewed for the position, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

    5:20pm: Led by the newly minted duo of owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson, the Mets are off to an active start this offseason. They’ve already signed reliever Trevor May to a two-year, $15.5MM contract, and they seem to be the front-runners to add catcher James McCann. They’re also surely moving to acquire other players. The Mets have done all their work in recent weeks without a general manager, but that might not be the case for much longer. The club could hire someone as early as next week, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

    It’s “likely” the Mets will choose Red Sox assistant general manager Zack Scott, Diamondbacks assistant GM Jared Porter, Athletics AGM Billy Owens or former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill to become their new GM, according to Heyman. Hill interviewed for the position in the first half of November, but it’s unclear if the Mets have spoken with him again since then. It’s also unknown if (or how many times) they have talked to the other candidates.

    Hill’s vast experience as the leader of a front office could give him the leg up in New York, as Cohen said when he took over the franchise last month, “I’m not crazy about people learning on my dime” (via Lou DiPietro of WFAN). That said, Scott, Porter and Owens have plenty of experience in their own right. Scott has been with the Red Sox in various roles since 2004; Porter also started in Boston in 2004, and he has since been a key part of two other front offices (Cubs, D-backs); and Owens has held multiple roles with the A’s since the late 1990s. Owens even worked with lderson for a couple of years when the latter was in Oakland’s front office.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[A’s Notes: A.J. Puk, Jake Diekman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=296439 2020-12-10T18:19:30Z 2020-12-10T18:19:30Z Tantalizing left-hander A.J. Puk is on track to to return from shoulder surgery and take his place in the A’s 2021 starting rotation, per MLB.com’s Martín Gallegos (via Twitter). GM David Forst places Puk alongside Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt in their projected rotation.

    At the tail end of games, however, the A’s have a hole to fill. When Blake Treinen left in free agency, the A’s backfilled the closer role with Liam Hendriks. Now that Hendriks appears to be following Treinen out the door, the A’s again have a decision to make. Hendriks had already eased into the role with 25 saves in 2019 when he took over, however.

    Only two players besides Hendriks recorded a save in 2020, however: Joakim Soria had two and Burch Smith had one. Soria is also a free agent, and Smith is a soon-to-be 31-year-old looking to appear in back-to-back seasons for the same team for the first time in his career. But the A’s aren’t totally bereft of candidates for high-leverage opportunities.

    Forst put Jake Diekman at the top of the list, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Diekman bounced around from Philadelphia to Texas to Arizona and Kansas City before landing in Oakland a few days before the 2019 trade deadline. He’s been a viable and oft-used bullpen arm throughout his nine-year career, but he’s never been regularly called upon to finish games. Diekman has seven career saves.

    Diekman reached new heights in 2020 with a 0.42 ERA/2.72 FIP across 21 appearances totaling 21 1/3 innings. The 33-year-old has also notched 141 holds throughout his career, including 13 in 2020.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Considering Billy Owens For GM Job?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=291981 2020-12-05T17:13:46Z 2020-12-05T17:11:50Z
  • After speculation earlier in the offseason that Athletics assistant GM Billy Owens could be a candidate to join the Mets, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff reports that the Mets have, at least, “held internal discussions” about Owens, though it isn’t known if Owens has actually interviewed for the team’s general manager vacancy.  Owens has a prior relationship with Mets president Sandy Alderson, as Alderson worked as a senior advisor to the Oakland front office for the last two seasons before returning to the Mets.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Name Mark Kotsay Third Base Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=290627 2020-12-03T19:53:10Z 2020-12-03T19:53:10Z The Athletics announced that Mark Kotsay will take over as their third base coach in 2021. He’ll succeed Al Pedrique, whom the team parted with in October. The rest of the A’s coaching staff from last season will remain intact.

    Kotsay is a former major league outfielder who spent part of his career (2004-07) as a member of the A’s. Since his playing days ended in 2013, Kotsay has garnered coaching and front office experience with a pair of teams. The Padres, with whom he also played, hired him as a special assistant and then a hitting coach in 2014. He spent a year there before heading back to Oakland.

    The third base coach role will be the third different assignment Kotsay has had during his time on the A’s staff. He started as their bench coach but later became their quality control coach. Kotsay has since generated managerial interest around the majors, including from the Tigers this offseason. The 44-year-old figures to remain on other teams’ radars going forward.

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